Oral Tracey | The eyewitness account
The notion that perception is often different from reality applies perfectly to the ongoing controversy that at various points, threatened to derail and indeed overshadow the climax of the 2017 schoolboy football season. In this case, the perception being created was that some egregious abuse and criminal threats were aimed at the referees for that now infamous ISSA/FLOW Super Cup Semi final between rival schools Kingston College and Jamaica College (JC). This is nothing short of a figment of someone's paranoid, misguided and egotistical imagination.
As a close up eyewitness, with no major connection to either school , from what I saw and heard in those telling moments there were no threats and indeed no abuse of the referees, and this incident has got to be the most exaggerated an overblown incident of its kind of the decade, possibly the century.
A lot of the opinion formed and views expressed on this issue are based on television pictures and views from the distance of the stands without the benefit of hearing the exchanges and an appreciation of the context of the way the sequence of the events unfolded. It is now obvious that the intricate nuances of the incident looked worse than they actually were.
By virtue of being the public address announcer at the event, I happened to have been no more than three, possibly four meters from where the fourth official was stationed, and another three meters from the Jamaica College bench. Within moments of the final whistle, I moved to within an arm's length of the fourth official to seek clarity on that pivotal decision, just as Messrs Forbes and Peart approached him, admittedly in an emotional state and animated tone. But does an emotional state and animated tone equate to being threatening and abusive? Certainly not!
I saw and heard the entire exchange between the accused gentlemen and the fourth official and in my humble unattached opinion, no abuse and or threats occurred. Indeed, the fourth official appeared quite calm and understanding of the situation as he explained to myself and the JC officials why it was indeed an indirect and not a direct free kick. My understanding is that it was this same fourth official who wrote the referees report on the game, and it is a little befuddling to see the disparity and indeed the disconnect between what actually transpired the way it transpired and what came out in the report.
The sequence of events which saw things escalate to the match officials literally hijacking the start of both the Super and Manning Cup finals, shows us clearly that the problem with this issue lies in some person or persons misguided quest to be accuser, judge, jury and executioner all in one.
A lot of wires seem to have been crossed in the analysis and the discourse surrounding this issue. No one in their right senses can condone or support the abuse and or threatening of game officials, but in the same breath, simply speaking to or making queries of the game officials, cannot be necessarily deemed abusive and threatening. Coaches, assistant coaches, managers and players query referee calls every single day at almost every level of football, many times in an animated and emotional manner.
Let us not lose ourselves in silly self righteousness. There has been a massive exaggeration and overreaction to what were the natural reactions of ambitious football team officials who had just lost a heated semi final game against their rival school. The fact that the referee's decision was one hundred percent correct and the outburst itself turned out to be baseless, does not automatically mean that abuses and threats occurred.
If merely questioning the referees call rightly or wrongly constitutes threats and abuses, then we are all losing our minds. Again, as a close up eyewitness, all I heard and saw from desperate JC team officials were repeated animated queries as to why the free kick in question was an indirect free kick and not a direct free kick. This exchange went on for approximately sixty seconds, possibly less. The referee explained, and the JC officials eventually swallowed their bitter pill and moved on. What ensued was an unnecessary, but typical overreaction and the creation of another massive storm in a tea cup, by we all know who.